Posted August 14, 2013

Expanded replay plan could be announced this week

instant replay
Replay was at the heart of a controversy involving Angel Hernandez and the Oakland A's back in May. (Mark Duncan/AP)

Replay was at the heart of a controversy involving Angel Hernandez and the Oakland A’s back in May. (Mark Duncan/AP)

According to a tweet by David Lennon of Long Island’s Newsday, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig could announce Thursday the implementation of expanded replay for this year’s playoffs.

This development comes from the owners’ meetings, which are taking place in Cooperstown this week, and builds on the momentum for expanded replay from the May owners’ meetings in New York. At that time, MLB executive vice president Joe Torre said, “We’re considering much more than the trap play and fair/foul,” but expressed the popular concern about slowing the pace of games, and said that opinion was split on, and he was personally against, the idea of using a challenge system like the NFL’s.

At that time, it seemed that the implementation of such a plan wouldn’t come until at least the start of the 2014 season because of the technological infrastructure required to enable expanded replay, not to mention the associated costs, but if the momentum is there, baseball has a month and a half to get things ready and up to speed (and, hopefully, battle tested in regular-season games) before the postseason.

Baseball implemented its current replay for home-run calls in late August 2008, but that system, unaltered since, relies entirely on broadcast footage and a single dugout-level monitor for the on-field umpires. Previous assumptions have been that expanded replay, particularly for fair/foul calls, would implement additional technology such as tennis’ Hawkeye System and golf’s Trackman, both of which they had previously tested in the Arizona Fall League and the two New York ballparks.

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Replay isn’t a guarantee of correct or controversy-free officiating. We saw a crew led by Angel Hernandez fail to recognize on replay what looked to seemingly everyone else like a clear game-tying home run back in May, and it’s unlikely that replay would have overturned the controversial infield-fly call in last year’s National League Wild Card Game, a call MLB Network’s Harold Reynolds expertly illustrated may have been the correct one after all. Still, that play was a perfect example of how the new wild-card play-in format heightens the need for expanded replay. As damaging as a blown call can be to a team’s efforts in a short series, such a call can completely alter the outcome of a single game, and with four teams guaranteed to have their seasons come down to a single double-elimination game, baseball can ill-afford to proceed with their new playoff format without a better safety net for the umpires.

The prospect of expanded replay should thus be greeted with cautious optimism. If done right, replay should greatly improve the game, greatly reducing (but not eliminating) blown calls without unduly lengthening games or opening the door for additional misjudgments. It remains to be seen if baseball can implement such an ideal system in the six weeks remaining in the 2013 regular season, but it certainly seems worth trying.

12 comments
Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Gee, I would hate to see them rush into anything...

Chip
Chip

I have no concerns with the speed of replay, as long as they have an ump that is stationed at the replay booth at all times (a 5th umpire who will serve as a backup in case one of the 4 on the field is injured). Right now, there's already a delay in the game on a close call because the manager goes out and argues with the ump. This time would instead be spent on verifying that the call was correct (or that the call was wrong, and then overturning it).

DanaBunner
DanaBunner

I wish they would go to using the electronic ball & strike calls.  It is so frustrating to see batters show some plate discipline and take balls off of the outside corner on 3 & 2 counts, only to be called out.  Or for the ball to nick the corner and be called ball 4.  Game after game is decided on these blown calls and there is no reason to endure it.  Some umps miss 20 or so of these calls a game.

espnrefugee0218
espnrefugee0218

They are overly concerned with the speed of replay...in football there is so much for the referees to look at..like play in question, the spot of the ball, the time remaining etc...baseball doesnt have to do ANY of that...just a quick replay like in tennis...it could take less than 60 seconds. Which is less than it takes for a manager to come out of the dugout and argue for NO REASON.

You could also emphasize to umpires on boder line foul balls down the line...to err on the side of "fair ball" if its close...play out the play...and simply reverse it,  if  the ball is foul.  No more chest bumping umpires who see it as their way or the highway.    


nunEEE6
nunEEE6

Selig just held a press conference: "MLB plans to announce further plans to extend replay sometime in 2014. No questions please."

Ed16
Ed16

Just start holding the umpires accountable, that would help.

boulderbrook
boulderbrook

They could put go pro cameras Ina dozen different places for chump change.

CraigSimpson
CraigSimpson

Officiating in baseball is a joke. Add the replays and use a replay official in the pressbox.

M20
M20

@espnrefugee0218 The speed issue is an absurd argument for any sport with frequent stoppages in play (which is basically every sport except for soccer).

Voiceover310
Voiceover310

@Ed16 You can't blame the umpires for missing some calls. They don't have the angles of 20 different tv cameras. Isn't a baseball game long enough already? If they start reviewing every little thing then it will take 8 hours to play a game. 

nunEEE6
nunEEE6

@Ed16 It's not like they're terrible on purpose. Humans are just not capable of doing that job well in the moment. 

Kortez Tk
Kortez Tk

@Ed16 Excellent idea, but also implement expanded replay right away.  The blind umpires are costing teams games.